Alzheimer’s disease is associated with 50-80% of reported memory loss in people ages 65 and older but there are those who get diagnosed at a much younger age (40-50) . It affects the way you think and behave. Initially it may seem to affect how you learn and then gradually becomes more serious with complications like forgetfulness and disorientation, changes in moods and behavior, http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp.
A recent study in Neurology (2013 Apr 23;80(17):1557-1564), entitled, ” Higher serum glucose levels are associated with cerebral hypometabolism in Alzheimer regions” , supports the idea that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is not just genetic but may have a direct link with higher than normal blood sugar in those individuals who do not have diabetes.
According to Alfred Kaszniak an author of the study, 3-d images of metabolic activity in the brain were used to identify the risk for developing AD. Metabolic brain activity was NOT the same for those with and without AD. You can see the picture above or visit, http://www.alz.org/braintour/healthy_vs_alzheimers.asp.
Surprisingly, there was similar metabolic brain activity in both individuals who have a genetic predisposition (Apo E4 gene) which increases the risk for AD and those who did not have the gene but had higher than normal fasting blood sugar (BS) levels; but the BS was not high enough to be classified as diabetes. The “higher” BS, may have been classified as impaired fasting glucose (IFG). IFG is a blood sugar reading done while fasting and the results range between 100-125mg/dl. Because there may be no (or so general they go unnoticed) symptoms associated with high blood sugar, it is smart to get this checked during your routine doctors visit.
But there are 3 important lifestyle tips that you can follow, and most likely you have heard about them before, they can ward off higher blood sugar levels and help maintain normal brain activity to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Exercise because it helps bring the sugar out of the blood and deliver it to muscles.
2. Control stress levels because more stress means higher blood sugar levels as a result of higher cortisol
3. Lower carb intake, it has a direct effect on blood sugar as 100% gets converted to sugar or use a ketogenic diet. Ketogenic diets have been found to benefit the brain; Costantini et al., published a study “Hypometabolism as a therapeutic target in Alzheimer’s disease”. This study discusses the biochemical advantages of a ketogenic diet for the brain. Please note the study discusses a supplement (that produces ketones) that is really not necessary when carbs are minimized. I am not promoting this supplement.
Advances in medicine teach us a lot. This new finding, the relationship between AD and fasting blood sugar gives us an opportunity to prevent a very debilitating disease in people with and are not
So Alzheimer’s is…a disease that we are learning more about and may be able to prevent with lifestyle changes.